The Developer’s Resume

About a month ago I took a long, hard look at where I am and where I want to be. The company I currently work for is a great company, and I work with great people. I also get paid quite well. However, the environment that I have been working in clashes with my personal work style. I take application development very seriously, and I strive not to allow any deficiencies into the software that I create. Others within the company, despite their ability to tackle tough problems and create innovative solutions, do not share my love of perfection. I do not claim that I am right, only that I find it difficult to work in an environment that forces me to go against my natural work style. After trying to fit in for over a year and a half, I saw an opportunity to join a company that more closely matched my skill set, interests, and values. I applied a couple weeks ago, interviewed with them a few times, and this week accepted an offer with them.

When I applied to my new job, I evaluated my resume from the perspective of the hiring manager. When I had applied to jobs in the past, I used all of the commonly accepted best-practices for creating a resume. I highlighted my education. I used action words. I included percentages and figures that were meant to impress the reader. I made the visual format appealing. I did everything that was recommended. Unfortunately, I have learned that in my field these best-practices don’t even matter; hiring managers and recruiters look for a couple specific things when they evaluate candidates applying for a software or web development position. First of all, does the candidate have the required skills? Secondly, is the candidate competent enough to present a case that their existing skills match the requirements of the position. They might be interested in other particulars of the resume, but if you don’t satisfy those first two things, I’ve learned that the employer usually is not interested at all. Fancy looking resumes with action words, numbers and impressive educations won’t do the trick.

My advice to developers working on their resume:

1) Create a section of the resume to list your technical skills. Your technical skills are most likely how you will initially be selected in or out of the candidate pool.
2) When you send your resume out, rearrange these skills to match the priority that the job posting lists them in.
3) In your descriptions of your past job experience, highlight the skills required by the job posting if they applied to the position.
4) Always write a cover letter. This lets the employer know that you are competent and serious about performing to the best of your ability.
5) If you are weak in a particular skill, or if there are any other areas of the job posting that might not match perfectly, let it be known, but do it in the cover letter. Explain where there may be an issue and make a case for how you can provide value regardless of the issue.

That’s my two cents on developer resumes. If any developers out there have had different experiences, or have had good results with other tips, I would love to hear from you.

Lastly, the following article contains some other great tips on resumes in general:


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